Robert Osborne, TCM host and film historian, dead at age 84

TCM host Robert Osborne has died at 84, the network says. He passed away in New York, where he lived.

Turner Classic Movies General Manager Jennifer Dorian released a statement on behalf of the network.

"All of us at Turner Classic Movies are deeply saddened by the death of Robert Osborne," said Dorian. "Robert was a beloved member of the Turner family for more than 23 years. He joined us as an expert on classic films and grew to be our cherished colleague and esteemed ambassador for TCM.

"Robert was embraced by devoted fans who saw him as a trusted expert and friend. His calming presence, gentlemanly style, encycolpedic knowledge of film history, fervent support for film preservation and highly personal interviewing style all combined to make him a truly world-class host. Robert's contributions were fundamental in shaping TCM into what it is today and we owe him a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid."

In 2016, Osborne talked to Mo Rocca on "CBS Sunday Morning" about his passion for movies, which Rocca joked was "Rain Man"-like.

Osborne said he had been in love with the movies since he was a teenager in the small town of Colfax, Washington.

"I actually spent every Saturday in college going through every copy of The New York Times over about a 20-year period, and made a list of every movie that played, and how long it ran," he said. Osborne kept his notes in a journal he called "Blackie."

Osborne tried on several different hats in the entertainment industry, including acting. He told Rocca that Lucille Ball took him under her wing: "She really was looking for people who could sing and dance, and I couldn't do either. She just liked me." Ball encouraged him to write instead, and he wrote a book about Oscar history and then became an entertainment reporter.

But his dream job came when Turner Classic Movies launched in 1994: "I was preparing for my ideal job that didn't exist," he said. Osborne kicked off his gig by introducing "Gone With the Wind," and remained Turner Classic's main host ever since. He introduced films by discussing history and trivia, and interviewed actors about their favorite classic movies.

Osborne said his favorite interview in that role was with former movie musical star Betty Hutton, who -- by the year 2000 -- had not appeared on camera for nearly 20 years.

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